South Asian Heritage Month took place from 18 July to 17 August 2022, and the aim of this external awareness event was to “Celebrate, commemorate and educate”. South Asian Heritage Month at NELFT celebrated staff from the eight countries of South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. The EDI team, together with NELFT's Ethnic Minority Staff Network, held two events for the month - a curry giveaway at Goodmayes Hospital and a virtual book club event.
Cultural food giveaway
On 9 August 2022, free traditional South Asian food was available to any staff at NELFT, and symbolised the welcoming of all people into South Asian culture. It was served by the whole EDI team plus Cathrine Lund, Co-Chair of the EMN Network. Ethnic Minority Network Ambassadors and network supporters also facilitated awareness conversations as people queued for their food on the warm summer’s day. A marquee was set up on the grass and 250 packed curry lunches were provided including meat, vegetarian and vegan options, with snacks and drinks. The event was filled with laughter, great background music and the contented comments from those who felt the warmth of the network’s inclusivity and generosity. A survey was conducted to understand more about the impact of the event. Of the 42 people who completed the feedback survey:
- 93% said they enjoyed their free lunch
- 55% said the free lunch was their introduction to South Asian Heritage Month
- 27% said the free lunch was their introduction to NELFT’s Ethnic Minority Network
Comments about the event included:
"Really enjoyable and boosted morale on the ward."
"Great event. The EDI team and networks are fabulous at making sure staff are inclusive and aware of important events such as this."
"Lunch was lovely but too much for me - smaller portion might have been better but that's just be other than that I loved it! Great to see so many people coming together and in the sunshine!"
"This was a very welcomed and innovative way of promoting networking and the opportunity for discussion with colleagues from a wide variety of backgrounds and heritage. Through food and allowing space with colleagues, I was able to discuss my cultural heritage and subjects included Independence, evacuation from Pakistan to India and what it means to be South Asian in Britain. How family structures, expectations have changed for people."
The book club on 11 August was hosted by Sneha Khilay, a specialist diversity and management/leadership consultant. Sneha works closely with the EDI team, delivering leadership programmes for ethnic minority staff. The event was supported by Natasha Howard, NELFT's Ethnic Minority Network Strategic Ambassador and Library and Knowledge Manager, as well as the EDI team. All staff were invited to attend the event which allowed ethnic minority staff to discuss common experiences, and enabled allies to increase their understanding of the known challenges to these communities.
The chosen book was The Good Immigrant, an anthology of twenty-one essays by British authors who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. The essays concern race, immigration, identity, 'otherness', exploring the experience of immigrant and ethnic minority life in the United Kingdom from their perspective. Staff attending the event discussed four selected chapters from the book which they had read in advance of the meeting. The intimate one-hour session generated thought-provoking conversations on topics such as displacement, class, microaggressions, freedom of movement and what it means to have a stake in society. Richardson Allen, Serious Incident Investigator commented on the session “it was really enlightening and refreshing.”